A MAN who beat cancer twice has welcomed the decision to allow the NHS to prescribe the drug that helped him.
The recommendation for Opdivo – also known as nivolumab – to be used for NHS patients has been praised by Jason Nash, who battled Hodgkin lymphoma.
The 43-year-old took part in a trial for the drug after other treatments had failed.
It helped put him in remission, allowing him to have a bone marrow transplant and become cancer-free.
Use of Opdivo by the NHS comes after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued a final appraisal determination recommending it.
Initially, it had said more evidence was needed before the drug, manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb, could be recommended.
Jason, from Southsea, said: ‘It is very encouraging that people who were in the same position as me and have tried all of the standard treatments have the options to use nivolumab.
‘It is encouraging and could give them the hope they need.
‘There are loads of different types of cancer and treatments so I’m grateful that Nice has taken the time to look into nivolumab and get all the evidence they needed to recommend it.’
As previously reported in The News, Jason was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and, despite chemotherapy treatment, relapsed twice.
He was offered another drug, but although it helped initially, it did not make him well enough for a bone marrow transplant.
So when he was offered a chance to take part in the nivolumab trial, he agreed.
Jason added: ‘Thanks to this drug I was able to get the stem cell transplant I needed and now I am back at work.’
Now, nivolumab will be used to treat adult patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma, an aggressive blood cancer.
This means patients in England and Wales will be the first in the UK to benefit.
Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of the Lymphoma Association, said: ‘We are delighted to learn that Nice has reversed its initial draft guidance and recommended nivolumab for routine use within the NHS in England and Wales.
‘The decision will bring relief to those Hodgkin lymphoma patients, many of whom are from a younger population, who without this treatment, many would have faced palliative care.
‘It is vital that innovative treatments are being developed and made available to lymphoma patients.
‘We want everyone affected by lymphoma to receive the best possible treatment and care, and the more options there are to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients, the better.’